In case anyone believed pop music was getting a bit too monotonous lately, Brit import Lily Allen is here to change your minds. After a nearly four-year long hiatus, the cheeky and sometimes controversial 29-year-old is enjoying a welcome return to music with her new album, Sheezus. Debuting at no. 12 on the Billboard album charts, Sheezus is filled with references to how much of an non-celebrity Lily Allen considers herself, how difficult it is to be a woman in the spotlight and other instances of her sometimes harsh truth. Case in point, Allen believes that most celebrities are not so nice.
“The general public should know,” she said to Heat Magazine, “we’re all just s**king off some rich dude who owns a vodka brand.”
Those words may make those not used to her a bit uncomfortable, but Allen has always come across as never being afraid of speaking her mind. She understands that many wonder if she has gone too far with what she considers the truth about the world, whether it happens to be in her lyrics or in interviews.
“I’m just a very honest person and I say exactly what I feel,” she said to the Sydney Morning Herald. “The reason I say those things is, in a way, I want some validation.” It was that honesty and clever use of it in her music that made her first two albums, Alright, Still in 2006 and It’s Not Me, It’s You in 2009, big hits.
In the public eye, Allen was winning left and right, but personal problems began to drown out everything she had worked for, coming to prominence from music posted on her MySpace profile. She suffered two miscarriages in 2010 and 2011 and even spent some time in a psychiatric ward following the painful losses. She touches on the subject on the song, Take My Place from Sheezus.
“Wake me up if it’s a dream
This is more than I can take
I’d give everything I own…”
”I had a stillborn in October 2010,” she sadly remembers. “Writing is a catharsis for me and this was something that was occupying 95 per cent of my waking day.” Another song on the disc, Holding Onto Nothing, touches on the loss of her second child.
“I write songs about my life and that’s something that unfortunately happened to me,” she says. “The feeling is raw because it’s a raw subject.”
Although Lily Allen may use her harsh truth to convey raw feelings about her life, some subjects on Sheezus have been considered a bit too raw for the public. The first single from Sheezus, called Hard Out Here, was met with a wave of complaints when the video was released in late 2013. In the video, Allen is surrounded by scantily clad women dancing provocatively and at times, they are being somewhat objectified by Allen herself. It was meant to call out the controversial Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, with its blatant nature. However, an uproar from people who did not seem to understand her point of view forced Allen to compose an explanation for her video.
“Whilst I don’t want to offend anyone, I do strive to provoke thought and conversation”, she said on her Twitter page.
“I’ve always been called ‘mouthy’ when, in fact, I’m just talking,” she shared with Idolator. “In the music industry, women have always been controlled by male execs. Keep your mouth shut or people will laugh at you.”
It makes sense that the title of her album is a nod to the album, Yeezus, recorded by another artist who has been accused of being too honest at times, rapper Kanye West. The two met each other for the first time at the Met Gala this year and Allen got the seal of approval she needed.
“He thought it was funny”, she revealed. “And Kim [Kardashian] said, ‘I’m the real ‘Sheezus‘.”
Lily Allen and the harsh truth of Sheezus may definitely ruffle some feathers. However, the singer stands firm that releasing these words are more helpful than harmful. ‘I think that we can begin to get over our feelings of shame and guilt about the way we live our lives as we talked openly about them,” she says. “It’s all about being open. That’s the key to happiness, I think.”
By Jonathan Brown